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Warner Bros. Offers Ben Affleck Tales From the Gangster Squad

Ben Affleck's done robbers ... are cops next? We just got word that Warner Bros. is so pleased with Affleck's The Town (worldwide gross to date: nearly $60 million) that it's offered him Tales from the Gangster Squad, a script about the Los Angeles Police Department's off-the-books squad of mercenary cops who tried to chase infamous gangster Micky Cohen out of town in the forties.

(Cohen, for those unfamiliar, started out as hired muscle for Al Capone in Chicago, but blossomed as a mogul after being sent to Los Angeles by Murder, Inc. kingpin Meyer Lansky to surveille Bugsy Siegel, with whom Cohen helped set up the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and ran its sports-betting operation. He also ran a panoply of L.A. businesses, presumably as fronts to launder money — including floral shops, paint stores, nightclubs, casinos, gas stations, a haberdashery, and an ice-cream parlor — before getting busted for tax evasion in 1950 and serving four years in federal prison. Spoiler alert.)

Gangster Squad is interesting in that it is homegrown L.A. material about L.A. cops by an L.A. cop: It's nominally based on a 2008 series of articles by Los Angeles Times reporter Paul Lieberman, but was adapted for the screen by former South Central L.A. cop Will Beall, who is also a novelist (his L.A. Rex is already under option by Scott Rudin) and who's now a TV writer on ABC's crime drama Castle.

Still, it's not clear if Affleck will accept the gig, as he's also said to be considering directing Homeland, a pilot for Showtime from 24 producer Howard Gordon about a sleeper cell and an ex-CIA operative, and an unknown "two-hander" at Warner Bros. that might star his old pal Matt Damon.

Photo: Dave Hogan